Simplon Pass: between Italy and Switzerland by motorbike

Simple and fast itinerary that connects the Val d'Ossola in Piedmont with the Rhone Valley in Switzerland between history and nature.

Simplon pass motorcycle itinerary Italy Switzerland advice information bike cycle tourism
Simplon Pass

Motorcycle itinerary through the Sempione Pass and its iconic granite eagle.

Useful advice and information for this itinerary which connects the Val d'Ossola in Piedmont with the Rhone Valley in Switzerland.

Counted among the most important Alpine passes, the Sempione Pass deserves to be visited for the beauty of the landscapes and its important history.

Altitude (meters above sea level) 2.005 m
Length 47 Km
connection Domodossola (Ita) – Brig (Switzerland)
Number of hairpin bends 8
What to see in the surroundings Simplon Eagle, Old Hospice (Alter Spittel)
Typical dishes of the area Apple millefeuille, apricot carpaccio with serac cheese, raclette (cream cheese)
Winter closure No.
Road conditions and notes Good conditions – Difficulty: easy

Content index

  1. Historical notes
  2. Simplon Eagle
  3. Itinerary
  4. Data Room

Historical notes

Recent archaeological finds have established that the pass was already used in the Bronze Age for commercial purposes. The Romans built a mule track in 47 AD for both commercial and, above all, military use. In 1800 Napoleon chose the Sempione pass to the detriment of the San Bernando, considering the pass easier and decided to transform the mule track into a carriage road, effectively making the pass part of the fastest route to connect Milan to Paris and allowed Napoleon to use the same for its expansionist plans. A marvel of genius and technology, the Simplon road aroused widespread interest and in the era of postal coaches it attracted numerous Alpine tourists until it lost interest with the construction of the Simplon tunnel in 1906. At the time the longest railway tunnel in the world. From 1957 the road underwent improvements and updates on the line drawn by Napoleon. Today it is an easy road that can be traveled all year round.

Simplon Eagle

During the Second World War, the officers of the 11th Alpine Brigade of the Swiss Army proposed the construction of a monument depicting the symbol of the brigade: an eagle. To finance the work, each soldier gave up a day's wages. The monument was to represent not only the pride and independence of the Swiss people, but also the role of "guardians" on the Pass during the occupation of the border between 1939 and 1945. The Bern architect and sculptor Erwin Friedrich Baumann created the it works using blocks of granite taken from the old fortress of Gondo (located near the pass). The result that we can still admire today is an eagle about eight meters tall that stands proudly in defense of the pass.


The road is not particularly "fun" for us motorcyclists, it is equal to a highway with a length of about 50 km, but what is striking is the height reached (2.005 meters) and the scenarios that surround us.

Let's start from Domodossola, in Italy and we travel along the SS33 until we arrive in Switzerland, from where we continue on road 9 from where we start to climb gently and almost never demanding. The road surface is always in good condition and driving is clean and pleasant. We drive in the typical Alpine setting, between small villages overlooking the road, overhanging rocks and the peaks all around. Once at the Pass we park ours motorcycle to immerse ourselves in this corner of ancient and modern history, between a ritual photo next to the eagle and a visit to the old Hospice. After warming up with a coffee at high altitude, we take road 9 again and reach Brig, still in Switzerland, where we decide to have lunch based on traditional Swiss Valais dishes.

Map and link to the map:

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